A healthy weight is an important element of good health. How much you eat—and what you eat—play central roles in maintaining a healthy weight or losing weight. Exercise is the other key actor.
For years, low-fat diets were thought to be the best way to lose weight. A growing body of evidence shows that low-fat diets often don’t work, in part because these diets often replace fat with easily digested carbohydrates.
Hundreds of diets have been created, many promising fast and permanent weight loss. Remember the cabbage soup diet? The grapefruit diet? How about the Hollywood 48 Hour Miracle diet, the caveman diet, the Subway diet, the apple cider vinegar diet, and a host of forgettable celebrity diets?
The truth is, almost any diet will work if it helps you take in fewer calories. Diets do this in two main ways:
- getting you to eat certain “good” foods and/or avoid “bad” ones
- changing how you behave and the ways you think or feel about food
The best diet for losing weight is one that is good for all parts of your body, from your brain to your toes, and not just for your waistline. It is also one you can live with for a long time. In other words, a diet that offers plenty of good tasting and healthy choices, banishes few foods, and doesn’t require an extensive and expensive list of groceries or supplements.
One diet that fills the bill is a Mediterranean-type diet. Such a diet—and there are many variations—usually includes:
- several servings of fruits and vegetables a day
- whole-grain breads and cereals
- healthy fats from nuts, seeds, and olive oil
- lean protein from poultry, fish, and beans
- limited amounts of red meat
- moderate wine consumption with meals (no more than two glasses a day for men; no more than one a day for women
A Mediterranean-style diet is a flexible eating pattern. People who follow such diets tend to have lower rates of heart disease, diabetes, dementia, and other chronic conditions.